For the Many or the FewThe Initiative, Public Policy, and American Democracy

For the Many or the FewThe Initiative, Public Policy, and American Democracy

John G. Matsusaka

Print publication date: 2013

ISBN: 9780226510811

Publisher: University of Chicago Press

Abstract

Direct democracy is alive and well in the United States. Citizens are increasingly using initiatives and referendums to take the law into their own hands, overriding their elected officials to set tax, expenditure, and social policies. This book provides an even-handed and historically based treatment of the subject. Drawing upon a century of evidence, the author argues against the popular belief that initiative measures are influenced by wealthy special interest groups that neglect the majority view. Examining demographic, political, and opinion data, he demonstrates how the initiative process brings about systematic changes in tax and expenditure policies of state and local governments that are generally supported by the citizens. The author concludes that, by and large, direct democracy in the form of the initiative process works for the benefit of the many rather than the few.